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Opéra de Paris: Hommage à Roland Petit

We always say that the world is a stage and what we experience every day is several pieces of the show. Then I must have just seen the most sensuous life stories of some poisonous romances flashed by my eye on the stage of Palais Garnier.

After a year of the closing-door of theatres, the first ballet production Opéra de Paris produced to welcome their audiences back into the auditorium room is a beautiful work paying homage to Roland Petit, the respectful French choreographer.

As the lights go dark, we hear the voice of Zizi Jeanmaire, the spouse of Roland. It is a short interview of Zizi talking about the work and style of Roland. To her, and to us of course, Roland's choreography is Paris, he brings sensual pleasure to our body and soul; his work is beauty and love. From each phrase and word of Zizi, not only can we feel the admiration between a couple, most important of all, we can also discover a great appreciation of a ballerina to a choreographer.

This homage is combined with three short choreography: Le Rendez-Vous, Le Jeune Homme et La Mort and Carmen.

Le Rendez-Vous

The performance starts with Le Rendez-Vous. The monochrome aesthetic seems to announce the theme of the entire ballet: love and death. It also presents us the street of Paris during the night, the city that is always charming, yet the mysterious and sometimes dangerous sense of feeling exist in the air.

The young man in Le Rendez-Vous is performed by the first dancer, Marc Moreau. Marc's charisma is well-fitted with this role. His agile and light steps on the stage perfectly interpret merry fella who thought he has successfully tricked fate from taking away his life.

From his pas de deux with "the most beautiful woman of the world", we can also share the joyfulness he has when he thinks he really met an ideal woman that he made up, especially with that naughty touch of the hand and then quickly jump back for a pirouette en dedans. Overall, Marc's dances and body languages make the audiences believe, believing in a spooky phantasmagoria is really happening in front of a real young man.

The most beautiful woman in the world is performed by another first dancer, Hannah O'Neill. She created the ghostly air in front of the audiences' eyes. In Le Rendez-Vous, Hannah is not wearing pointe shoes but a pair of black heels. The beautiful extension of her legs on heels presents an extremely seductive flirtation of a woman. Her mysterious charisma in Le Rendez-Vous is outstanding; sometimes she is difficult to get, while other times, she may be willing to give a kiss on the lips to that naïve fella.

The performance hits the peak when the music becomes stronger and with the overjoyed dance and expression of Hannah- "something is going to happen!". Suddenly, the music stops as the most beautiful woman in the world cut through the throat of the young man with an emotionless face. The essence of Le Rendez-Vous is that delicate movement of hands of Hannah when she folds the razor and throws it contemptuously to the dead young man.

Le Jeune Homme et La Mort

Undoubtedly, Le Jeune Homme et La Mort is the climax that ballet fans have been waiting for. Needless to say, two superb primary dancers, Hugo Marchand and Laura Hecquet, make this two-man performance seems like a mighty army.

After the first interval, is the second young man performed by Hugo. He is not the only one on stage, but his aura dominates the whole stage and the auditorium room. Hugo's amazingly strong core with that sometimes trembling, sometimes crazy and sometimes motionless choreography, picture us a young man that is addicted to toxic love.

The most extraordinary part is his control and the balance between the body and the object. It seems that gravity law doesn't exist where ever Hugo goes. The way how he dances with the table and the chairs shows the tough and serious training of an experienced dancer.

Besides presenting his marvellous skill, Hugo is without a doubt an actor that is capable of expressing such forceful emotion of a character with his body and facial expression. With him, we audiences are witnessing a young man on the edge of collapsing.

Laura presents an attractive woman with deadly allure, like a succubus. The confidence she reveals impeccably portrays a dangerous woman is having the young man around her fingers. The motion of her legs on the young man's body shows us how the young man was just a pastime to her.

Compare to Hugo, Laura's dance is calmer and smoother. Her dance shows an abusive woman who enjoys insulting and controls the man in front of her. With Laura's performance, all of the audiences hold their breath when she points strongly across space. With Laura's eerie stare and finger, our curiosity and nervousness are arisen, wondering what is she planning with that poor man.


The last toxic romance is the renowned Carmen by Bizet, performed by the primary dancer, Ludmila Pagliero and the first dancer Audric Bezard. This group of dancers shows exceptional control of their landing and feet. Besides the quintessential strong steps of the Spanish dance, the foot-landing of these two dancers from the jumps or big steps are almost silent.

Audric interprets a really charming and possessive Don José. Each moment of his body language expresses perfectly a corporal who lusts for a passionate love from Carmen. In the chamber pas de deux, Audric's soft motion and gestures reveal the satisfaction after thinking he has had the love he seeks for. Even though there is no much extreme technic designed in the choreography for the male part, it is instead even more impressive how Audric can deliver an aristocratic elegance with the minimum dance move.

Ludmila also performed an attractive Carmen. She portrays a woman with rich emotion and whose goal in life is to attract men and depend on the love relationship with them. In the chamber solo and the chamber pas de deux, Ludmila demonstrates a beautiful extension and the agility of the legs. Especially during her rond de jambe et tournée, it feels like the audience can see a piece of flamenco skirt flipping around her body.

On the other hand, the last pas de deux is with an opposite atmosphere. The identical choreography for both of the characters creates tension and an anxious atmosphere. Audric's forceful movements and kiss show a violent lover who tries to convince a woman to commit her love to him. While Ludmila's dance well expresses a fearful woman who still takes the courage to fight against the threat in front of her.

As an audience, the professional ballet technics may not be the first thing to discover (we might even don't know if their technics are on point or not!); however, all of these six magnificent dancers cast the magic to the audience with their remarkable body expression. They draw us into the utopia they create on stage, letting us shares the desire, vulnerability and anger of the characters.

Photo: Ann Ray

(Article available in 2 other languages on Nereid, Elle Rêve)

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